How are committees of the Texas House of Representatives going
to conduct interim hearings during the pandemic?
Didn’t you ask and answer this question yesterday (July
20)? Yep. We reported that the Speaker of the Texas House issued a memo to his committee chairs banning House
committees from meeting virtually during the interim.
Later last night, however, one House committee – Land and
Resource Management – issued a notice asking for written input on annexation reform and
eminent domain law (including the “Landowner’s Bill of Rights”):
“Due to the ongoing pandemic and the uncertainty as to
scheduling interim hearings, the Committee requests written submissions from
interested parties and the public in regards to the assigned Interim Charges
All submissions are due on August 14, 2020, by 5pm (CST).
Submissions should be submitted via email to the Chairman, Tom Craddick, at Tom.Craddick@House.Texas.Gov
and shall be in word format.
Submissions should be no longer than five (5) pages in length
for each charge. The page limit is inclusive of any photos, graphs,
spreadsheets, charts, etc. the submitter chooses to include. Submissions
shall include the submitter name, organization or entity (if applicable and
an authorized representative), mailing address, email, and telephone number.
All submissions will be circulated to each Member of the
Committee after the August 14, 2020 deadline. A copy of all received comments
will be made available to the public by the Chairman.”
The League will, of course, be submitting written comments to
Has the League taken any action in relation to the attorney
general opinion request regarding re-opening the filing period for the
postponed city general elections?
Yes. The League filed comments on the request. State Representative Mayes
Middleton asked the following in relation to city elections that
were postponed from May until November due to the Coronavirus:
“First, if an eligible candidate seeks a place on the ballot
for a May election moved to November, but has not filed previously, are they
afforded an opportunity to do so? Second, can a jurisdiction deny them a
place on the ballot if they now file within the statutorily prescribed
timeframe, but did not previously do so?”
In response to Mr. Middleton’s request, TML urged the attorney
general to give deference to the governor’s order, the Secretary of State
Elections Division’s guidance, and a city’s continuity of government and
interest in protection of the public fisc. In these unprecedented times,
many cities took the extraordinary action to postpone their general election
for officers from May to November. That action took place after the
expiration of the period to file an application for a place on the ballot for
the May election, and the Secretary of State’s Elections Division advised
(and the governor presumably agreed) that, while the election itself was
moved, the filing period for the election had already concluded.
The bottom line is that the governor has taken decisive and
appropriate action to protect Texans’ voting rights and their safety, and he
is supported by the state’s elections experts. The logistical,
procedural, and financial problems that could be caused by an opinion to
re-open the otherwise closed filing deadline cannot be overstated. Thus, the
answers to the questions posed in RQ-0363-KP are, according to TML: (1) no;
and (2) yes.
It is believed that the Attorney General may act quickly on
the opinion request, so cities interested in filing their own comments should
act this week.
Has the governor’s office issued additional virus-related
public service announcements?
Yes, he issued a Spanish-language PSA today (July 21).
Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus
TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.